WINNIPEG – It was just another day in the office for Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin.
Even though he scored once, added a pair of assists and heavy hits in Washington’s 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, he didn’t think it was notable.
“I felt normal,” Ovechkin said. “If I have a chance to hit, why not?”
Ovechkin boosted his team’s intensity level by crushing Jets defenceman Mark Stuart and forward Bryan Little in the second period, sending the former to the dressing room.
Stuart came back for one shift in the third period, but left the ice again. Jets head coach Claude Noel didn’t have an update on his condition.
Braden Holtby made 20 saves in his fourth shutout of the season and second against the Jets. He also blanked Winnipeg 3-0 on March 2, the only times Winnipeg has been shut out this season.
Nicklas Backstrom scored once and had an assist for Washington (13-16-1), while Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson added goals as well.
Ondrej Pavelec faced 25 shots as the Jets (16-13-2) had their three-game home winning streak snapped.
Winnipeg stays in the Southeast Division’s top spot and the third seed in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost 4-1 to New Jersey on Thursday night.
The Jets and Washington face off again Friday night in Winnipeg.
“It’s nice that it’s a short turnaround and we have a chance to redeem ourselves right away,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd.
Washington head coach Adam Oates said Ovechkin was “good” and “solid.”
“We’ve talked a lot about this, and he was more involved in the game,” said Oates. “He needs to do the little things that let his game evolve and let Backie and Marcus evolve their games as well.
“He ends up getting his goal, the (power play). It was late, but it doesn’t matter, he’s going to get it. He made a great play on the second goal and then he makes a good play on Backie’s (goal).”
After a scoreless second period, Pavelec took a delay of game penalty late in the third and it proved costly.
With Olli Jokinen serving the penalty, Ovechkin scored his 13th goal of the season. Backstrom sent a pass to Ovechkin and he fired it high on Pavelec’s glove side at 14:06.
It was then Ovechkin’s turn to send a pass to Backstrom in the high slot and he put the puck between Pavelec and the post at 18:22 of the third.
Noel had no answers for what happened to his Jets, but said he’d look at the film and try to find a solution for Friday.
“We need to play better, that would be the first thing,” Noel said.
“We’ve given up seven goals in two games (against Washington) and haven’t scored one. They’re playing chess, we’re playing checkers.”
Brouwer opened the game’s scoring with a wrist shot from near the bottom of the faceoff circle that beat Pavelec at 3:06 of the first period, extending his points streak to three games (two goals, two assists).
Brooks Laich assisted on the goal for his first point of the season after making his season debut March 19 following a lengthy groin injury.
Late in the first, Ovechkin sent the puck past Winnipeg defenceman Dustin Byfuglien to Johannson, who redirected it into the net at 16:22 for the 2-0 lead.
Capitals defenceman Mike Green was back on the ice after missing 10 games with a groin injury, which Oates said allowed fellow blue-liner John Carlson to have a bit of rest.
“We keep him a little fresher, maybe a little sharper,” Oates said. “It trickles down through the lineup.”